Oct. 5th, 2005

  • 5:25 AM
lu: (Book)
"I have a feeling that you're riding for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall. But I don't honestly know what kind... It may be the kind where, at the age of thirty, you sit in some bar hating everybody who comes in looking as if he might have played football in college. Then again, you may pick up just enough education to hate people who say, 'It's a secret between he and I.' Or you may end up in some business office, throwing paper clips at the nearest stenographer. I just don't know.

This fall I think you're riding for - it's a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement's designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn't supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started.

I think that one of these days, you're going to have to find out where do you want to go. And then you've got to start going there. But immediately. You can't afford to lose a minute. Not you.

And I hate to tell you, but I think that once you a fair idea where you want to go, your first move will be to apply yourself in school. You'll have to. You're a student - whether the idea appeals to you or not. You're in love with knowledge. And I think you'll find, once you get past all the Mr. Vineses and their Oral Comp - all right - the Mr. Vinsons. Once you get past all the Mr. Vinsons, you're going to start getting closer and closer - that is, if you want to, and if you look for it and wait for it - to the kind of information that will be very, very dear to your heart.

Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them - if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.

I'm not trying to tell you that only educated and scholarly men are able to contribute something valuable to the world. It's not so. But I do say that educated and scholarly men, if they're brilliant and creative to begin with - which, unfortunately is rarely the case- tend to leave infinitely more valuable records behind them than men who are merely brilliant and creative. They tend to express themselves more clearly and they usually have a passion for following their thoughts through to the end. And- most important- nine times out of ten they have more humility than the unscholarly thinker.

Something else an academic education will do for you. If you go along with it any considerable distance, it'll begin to five you an idea what size mind you have. What it'll find and, maybe, what it won't. After a while, you'll have an idea what kind of thoughts your particular size mind should be wearing. For one thing, it may save you an extraordinary amount of time trying on ideas that don't suit you, aren't becoming to you. You'll begin to know your true measurements and dress your mind accordingly." - J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye.

Couldn't think of a better moment to read it.

Or is it the other way around?

You like bowling, don't you, Montag?

If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. If the government is inefficient, topheavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel like they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.

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